Chicken Tortilla Soup

Before I get to the details of the soup I made over the weekend, I have to brag about my new camera.  Over the holidays I received an amazing gift a NEW CAMERA!    I have just begun playing with it and so far I am just thrilled with the results.  I hope to take my blog to the next level as I learn more about how to take beautiful pictures with my new beautiful camera.  It’s a Sony NEX-3 just in case you’re curious.  OKAY, so now here is my post along with my new and improved pictures.

It finally snowed in DC this weekend!  I realize that I’m living in the wrong city if I’d like to see snow more than twice a year but now I have a unique opportunity.  I can now celebrate each snow day properly and this last weekend I celebrated by making a comforting and cozy soup.  I got the craving for a chicken tortilla soup; it was the perfect dish for a cold winter day.  Chicken tortilla soup is spicy, hearty and rich.  Only problem was I had never made chicken tortilla soup before.  So with the dilemma of never having made this soup before, I consulted with my favorite food blogger—Pioneer Woman.  She is amazing and I encourage you to check her out.  I jumped on her blog and believe it or not she did have a chicken tortilla soup recipe.  I worked off of her recipe and added a few of my own tastes.

First I made a spice mix consisting of cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt and garlic powder.  I used about ½ of the spice mix and seasoned 2 chicken breasts, on both sides with a tiny bit of olive oil, then tossed them in the oven heated at 375 F for about 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, pull the chicken out of the oven wait about 10-15 minutes before shredding.  I actually cooked 3 chicken breasts just in case but after adding the 2 I figured I had enough.

Dice one whole onion, red pepper and green pepper.   Heat a large soup pot to medium high heat.  Add about a Tablespoon of olive oil then the diced vegetables when the oil is hot.  Add the rest of the spice mix.  If you want a good caramelization, go ahead and cook down the vegetables until they get nice color to them.  Otherwise you could cook them for a few minutes then add the shredded chicken, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of black beans, a couple cloves of garlic minced, a few tablespoons of tomato paste and a couple tablespoons of chipotles in adobo sauce.  A trick someone taught me was to blend together the chipotles with the adobo sauce they soak in.  This breaks up the chipotles and creates a mixture that can easily be integrated into whatever dish you add them to, like soup.  The chipotles add a little smokiness, a little depth.  It is optional to add the chipotles but I don’t think you’ll regret it if you choose to add them, so go ahead take a walk on the wild side.

Mix all this up then add 32 ounces of chicken broth and about 3-4 cups of water.  Now this may seem like a lot of liquid but you will be cooking this soup for about 2 hours on the stovetop without a lid so some of the liquid will evaporate.  You can always add less water if you prefer a consistency closer to chili but I like a little broth.  So after simmering the soup for about 45 minutes, and I love this, add 5 tablespoons of cornmeal.  Don’t add the cornmeal directly to the soup, if you do this then the cornmeal will clump and not get integrated with the soup (which is what you want it to do).  So what you’ll do instead is take out some of the liquid from the soup, about a third of a cup, and combine the cornmeal to this small amount of liquid.  Once the cornmeal has combined completely with the liquid, then combine the mixture with the rest of the soup.  The cornmeal thickens up the soup and after combining the cornmeal to with the soup let the soup simmer for another 45 minutes or so.

Take the soup off the heat and let sit for about 15 minutes before serving.  Now for my favorite part of chicken tortilla soup, the toppings!  I add hot sauce (always), a wedge of lime juice, diced red onion, chopped cilantro, some avocado and crushed up Tostitos chips with a hint of lime.  I am obsessed with those tortilla chips with the hint of lime flavor.

If you want you can also add cheese or sour cream.  The list of possible toppings for this dish is endless but no matter what you prefer the final result will always be delicious.  It is kind of fun to put out a bunch of different toppings and allow for each person to personalize their own bowl of soup, you’ll get a lot of different combinations.  Here is the link to the original recipe by the amazing Pioneer Woman.  I generally followed the recipe but added a few of my own tweaks, feel free to add your own tweaks too.  Enjoy this flavorful soup on a cold winter day.  This dish will not disappoint, it has a lot of personality and tons of flavor.

Enjoy!

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